With news of the Bobcats and Gerald Henderson coming to an impasse in free agency negotiations, the team has apparently been chasing Monta Ellis as of earlier this week, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reports.
Rod Higgins, the Bobcats' President of Basketball Operations, has been fond of the guard ever since drafting Ellis 40th overall in 2005 for the Golden State Warriors.
Ellis has been an interesting player since coming into the league. He's quite talented as a combo guard. He uses a ton of possessions but can score pretty efficiently. After spending a few years working next to Stephen Curry, the Warriors traded him to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut. The Bucks didn't fare so well with Ellis next to Brandon Jennings. Though Curry works very well with the ball in his hands or as an off-ball player, Jennings does not. The two had very volatile offenses, sometimes combining for supremely inefficient scoring nights, and making for Ellis' worst season effective field goal percentage of his career. The situation turned sour leading to Scott Skiles' resignation and the Bucks managed to stagger into the playoffs as an 8 seed before being dismantled by the eventual champions.
The fit here is dubious at best.
Depending on how the Bobcats acquire Ellis (as an unrestricted free agent or via sign-and-trade), he will take up a chunk of cap room. Let's say Charlotte deals Henderson for draft picks and cash. That leaves them with about $9 million to spend on Ellis if he's willing to lower his salary from the previous $11 million per year. It also leaves them with one basketball to split between Ellis, Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson. Those players whose names I italicized in that sentence all have usage rates above 25 percent - each of them are accustomed to using a quarter of the team's plays when on the floor. The Jennings-Ellis duo did not work well in Milwaukee and a similar pairing with Walker would take drastic measures to work well in Charlotte. Ben Gordon would spontaneously combust when he realizes how many fewer shots he'd see next season. Ever heard the saying "Too many cooks spoil the broth?" Yeah, that.
The other option is acquiring Ellis in a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee, which also seems doubtful. Milwaukee has just signed O.J. Mayo to a three-year $24 million deal; Zaza Pachulia for three years and $15.6 million; Carlos Delfino for three years and up to $10 million; has made an offer to Jeff Teague for $32 million over four years; traded Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for draft picks and possibly traded cap room for Luke Ridnour. Brandon Jenning's fate is also yet to be decided, which would thus decide Teague's as well. What I'm getting at is that Milwaukee doesn't have much they can trade. They have a lot of players tied up or to be tied up in new deals that cannot be traded just yet.
Based on HoopsHype's team salary (not updated with new signings or recent trades), the Bucks are at about $31 million, including Jennings' qualifying offer. Ridnour and Mbah a Moute have very close salaries this season, so it more or less evens out (or let's say for at least simplicity's sake in this exercise). With the Teague offer sheet, it seems the Bucks will spend $8 million on a point guard, regardless, so let's replace Jennings' QO amount with that $8 million, adding $3.5 million to the existing offer. Then we add on Mayo's $8M, Pachulia's $5.2M and Delfino's $3.3M. This gives the Bucks a current 2013-14 team salary in the ballpark of $51 million. The new salary cap has been set at $58.679 million, meaning the team salary floor is at $52.81 million. Milwaukee has some room to maneuver.
Drew Gooden (and his $6.68 million for each of the next two seasons) is assuredly a player the Bucks would be fond of dealing in such a situation. If the Bobcats have their heart set on Ellis and Milwaukee wants Henderson, the two could make a swap with Henderson and Ellis as the centerpieces. Milwaukee could let Ellis walk as a free agent and keep more cap space, or they can do a S&T that would probably put them slightly over the cap this season to attain Henderson and possibly rid themselves of Gooden's contract this year and, more importantly, next year.
I'm not sure what possible deal works here, though. It's all rather tricky due to the Bucks' recent signings, their point guard situation and available contracts they would want to move. I've tried a few in my head and none work very well in anyone's favor that I can think of. Have at it in the comments, though.
And hey, Monta Ellis have it all.